Letters to Naomi

Jan. 23, 1943

Dear Naomi:

I can’t remember when I last wrote you or can’t remember when I last heard from you, because I have been moving about the world so much lately my mail has not caught up with me. I have not heard from home for two months or since we left England. We are now in the Middle East & have seen quite a lot of the desert, sand storms, scarcity of water, etc.

I really have been getting plenty of flying time down here. On some occasions or some weeks, I got or flew 40 hours & got shot at every time. Our flights are from 10 to 12 hours long & are plenty tough without having to worry about the “Jerry” but I guess we will make it now, have come this far along with a few close ones, so I guess will make it the rest of the way.

I believe I am credited with about 18 missions & got shot at every time, always from the ground & most of the time by pursuit ships. The flak looks like little puffs of smoke & seem to explode all around one’s ship, but never seem to actually shoot us down. I have picked up a lot of holes in my ship, had gasoline leaks, but never really got me, although this ship I have now is the third one I have flown over the target. The first one is being repaired by a major depot; the second one a total loss whereby some of the fellows were not so lucky as I & this ship. I have been plenty lucky, have not even picked up a hole & have gone on 10 or 11 raids with it. We have had several attacks by personal ships. They come in so close we can see what the guy looks like & can definitely see the big black German cross on the ship. They also really spit fire. The last time out, they sent tracer bullets just across our nose. Sometimes they are sorry for coming in because I have seen a few go down in flames. I also have seen one or two of our own ships go down which always takes the heart out of a guy. The raids here over Suisse, Tunis, Bizerte, Tripoli, etc. are not as tough as the ones we went on over Lille, St. Nazaire, Brest, Lorient, which are in France. Thank God for that.

On one night raid we went on alone over Suisse, we got lost coming back because of bad weather & wind shift and ended up over near Greece. We headed due south from there and got to an airport in Africa with only a few hours of gasoline left. The field was occupied by the English who are swell fellows. I used to make it a specialty of landing at strange fields in England. We always got treated swell & met Englishmen from all over the world–Australia, Union of S. Africa, Rhodesia, Egypt, and Canada. They all had different tales to tell & had really been around.

A couple of weeks ago, we got leave to go into Egypt to get a bath. I loaded my ground & air crew into the ship and took off. We first went to Cairo, buzzed & took pictures of the Pyramids & Sphinx & had steak & eggs in the city… I’ll sign off for tonight….

Here it is the next day. Thought we would go out on a raid today for sure, but I see my name up on the board for a night mission, probably over Italy or Sicily. Hope there is no flak, night fighters or searchlights, but that is asking for too much.

On with the story…From Cairo, we took off in Wham Bam, the name of my ship now, and went to Palestine. We made our headquarters at Tel Aviv, one of the youngest cities in the world… (more in book)

Alfred Asch

Dec. 24, 1942

Dear Naomi:

Here it is Christmas Eve, which finds me somewhere in the Middle East of Africa in the desert sitting in the Officers’ Club, which is a tent or made from a combination of tents, sipping on a bottle of beer, which is better than the water & something that will quench the thirst.

The lighting is pretty poor here so you will have to excuse the writing. We were just interrupted with an air raid warning. We heard the bombs hit near here but they never got quite here. I have never experienced an air raid while on the ground, but have a few in the air, which is good enough for me.

The weather here is a little different than in England, it being drier and a little warmer, but it really gets cold at night. We are living in tents at present & sleeping on cots, but we have plenty of blankets & are reasonably comfortable. We are hoping to be stationed in a better place soon.

I was in Egypt a few days & flew over the Pyramids & the Sphinx. They must be mammoth things because they look plenty big from the air. They are just outside of Cairo. Egypt is pretty from the air, its being very green this time of the year & one can trace their irrigation system perfectly from the air. Very interesting.

I visited the town of Ismalya. The town had quite modern buildings & quite a lot of vegetation. It is situated near the Suez Canal. One can buy anything he wants there if he has the money. Nothing is rationed. I spent about $50.00 & have nothing to show for it but a pair of shoes & a few souvenirs.

The people are very interesting… (more in book)
As Ever,
Alfred Asch

On to North Africa

Dear Naomi:

Conditions are a little different with me now in North Africa among the Arabs. The climate here is really swell, just like California, the soil about the same, hills in the distance & citrus fruits. It sure is a change coming from England, where one does not have fruits and vegetables & seldom see the sun, & coming down here. I really am getting a lot of swell pictures. I’ll show them to you when I get back.

The living conditions, that is the question, are not quite the same as in England, but I believe the food is just a little better, which surprised me. We came in such a hurry we didn’t pack much. The trip was a long, tiresome one & very thrilling. Will tell you about it some day.

The people here are Arabs of various kinds–French, Spanish and many others. The languages are mostly French & Spanish. We can buy oranges & tangerines by the crates, but in order to get fresh eggs, we have to give them clothing.  …(more in book)


Alfred Asch


Sept. 22, 1942

Dear Naomi:

Here I am in England and still remember you. It seldom happens that one writes to a girl after having just one date, but I do enjoy receiving your letters & will enjoy them much more over here. I can’t remember whether or not I wrote you since I saw you for a moment at Houghton Lake, but I am sorry if I caused any confusion; your boyfriend seemed to be very much distressed & I noticed you left immediately. It kinda made me sore his not wearing his uniform when one knows it to be a criminal offense to be out of uniform during war times. I realized he had only been in the service for a few weeks, but a good soldier should be proud of his uniform & what it stands for. That is beside the point, on with the letter.

We had a very interesting trip over here, longest one I ever took & was very tiresome. England is a beautiful place from the air, all the cities look new because of the brick structure of the buildings, but are several hundred years old. The streets are very narrow, the buildings small & health conditions not nearly as high as ours. The smells are very bad because of their sewage systems, fish & meat markets. Some places of interest I have been are London, Cambridge College & have flown over Oxford College several times. One can see the ruins of London where bombs have dropped, although the people informs us they have not had an air raid in London for over a year, which was surprising to me. Also when they say “blackout,” that is what they mean. It is so black, one can hardly get around. The cars have blackout lights on them & all right-hand drive.

The social life is at a minimum, but we have fun. Most of the people are very sociable. …….  (more in the book)

My address is:

Lt. Alfred Asch
328 Bomb Sqdn.
93rd Bomb Group
A.P.O. No. 634
Post Master General
New York City

The best way to send a letter is air mail.